MDC encourages people to help prevent wildfires

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JEFFERSON CITY Mo -- A combination of strong winds, low humidity, dry conditions, and warming temperatures this time of year has the potential for unexpected wildfires. Each year, Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) staff work with fire departments around the state to help suppress thousands of wildfires that can consume tens-of-thousands of acres.

According to MDC's Forestry Division, the main cause of wildfires is improper burning of debris such as trash and brush piles. The Department urges landowners, hunters, campers, and others in the outdoors to help prevent wildfires and offers the following tips.

Outdoor Burning

  • Do not conduct outdoor burning during times when grasses, brush and other fire fuel are very dry, humidity is low and weather is windy.
  • Dry fuel combined with high temperatures, low humidity and high winds make fire nearly impossible to control.
  • Check with local fire departments regarding burn bans that may be in place.
  • A person who starts a fire for any reason is responsible for any damage it may cause.
  • For more information on using prescribed fire as a land-management tool, visit and search "Prescribed Fire."

Driving Off Road

  • Wildfires can start when fine, dry fuel such as grass comes in contact with catalytic converters on motor vehicles.
  • Think twice before driving into and across a grassy field.
  • Never park over tall, dry grass or piles of leaves that can touch the underside of a vehicle.
  • When driving vehicles off road, regularly inspect the undercarriage to ensure that fuel and brake lines are intact and no oil leaks are apparent.
  • Always carry an approved fire extinguisher on vehicles that are used off road.
  • Check for the presence of spark arresters on ATV exhausts.

Making a Campfire

  • Clear a generous zone around fire rings. When humidity is low and wind is high, debris can become tinder for a stray spark or ember.
  • Store unused firewood a good distance from the fire.
  • Never use gasoline, kerosene, or other flammable liquid to start a fire.
  • Keep campfires small and controllable.
  • Keep fire-extinguishing materials, such as a rake, shovel and bucket of water, close by.
  • Never leave a campfire unattended! Extinguish campfires each night and before leaving camp, even for a few moments.

Smokers: Practice Extra Caution

  • Extinguish cigarettes completely and safely and dispose of butts responsibly.

Don't Delay Calling for Help!

  • Call 911 at the first sign of a fire getting out of control.

Report Forest Arson

  • Many wildfires are set by vandals.
  • Help stop arson by calling Operation Forest Arson at 800-392-1111. Callers will remain anonymous and rewards are possible.

DID YOU KNOW: In cooperation with the U.S. Forest Service, MDC provided nearly $390,000 in grants to 184 volunteer fire departments last year for protective clothing, equipment, and training. The Department also obtained more than $5 million in equipment from federal government programs for volunteer fire departments in the state, and provided wildland fire-suppression training to more than 400 Missouri firefighters.

For more information on preventing wildfires, go online to